Monday, June 29, 2009
Reading Stephen Cope: Unitive Experience & the Wild Woman in You
As you all know, my new black capezio dance shoes came a few days ago. The very next day, I really started to break them in. For close to an hour (my stamina needs to be rebuilt!), I danced!
And I danced! I mean, really danced. With no one to see me, I pushed myself, took risks, let go. There was no thinking, just doing. All my joint pain was just gone. All my anxiety was out the window. I was completely absorbed in this action, in this moment, in this music, in these senses.
I was mindless, I would have said many years ago. Of course, what I really was trying to say is that I was completely mindful.
After reading chapter four of Stephen Cope's The Wisdom of Yoga, I now understand dance to be, for me, a very powerful unitive experience and thus its importance -- its utter necessity -- in my life.
Cope writes: When all of our mental faculties become involved in the task at hand, action and awareness are drawn together. The mind becomes one-pointed. Distractions fade away. The pressure of time fades....There is no more reaching. Why bother looking elsewhere? Paradise is right here.
When I am dancing, there is nothing else.
But this unitive experience, for me, is not limited to dance.
And we cannot think that this is limited to moments on the mat or on the meditation cushion either. Actually, those moments are intended to be "practice" for the rest of our lives.
It is in the doing -- the fully doing -- of those activities that we were sent here to do that we fully become ourselves and become united with the larger universe or spirit.
I had a profound experience of this after an acting class in college where I presented my final monologue, which left the room full of students crying and my teacher, a professional theatre actress, breathless. When I left that room, the colors of the leaves on the trees, the sky -- it was all exploding in neons. Everything sparkled. I felt whole and totally open at the same time.
I had a profound experience of this when I was snorkeling in the Caribbean. I had no concept of where I was or how or if time were passing. All I knew was that I had dissolved into the Ocean and become one with the salty waters.
I had a profound experience of this when sitting on our back porch typing away at the last chapters of my novel, which seemed as if it had taken me over, was pouring through me.
It is in the doing...
Another tradition has much the same to say as Yoga in regards to Paradise.
In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Christ says: The kingdom is inside you and it is outside you...when you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living (god). But if you do no know yourselves, then you dwell in poverty, and you are poverty.
Because this is what all of this is about, isn't it? Knowing ourselves and living from that knowing.
I recently have invited you to join an Eccentricity Revolution for Wild Women.
This is not just some flippant attempt to get us all wearing glitter and singing too loudly in public. (Though that would be just fine...)
This is about becoming who you were meant to be so that you might experience bliss -- or your own divinity which is infinite in each moment.
Knowing yourself, you will then have more of these unitive experiences and some day you may realize that your whole life is one big unitive experience and that there is no longer any need for a meditation cushion because your life is your meditation.
Think back. What moments can you identify as unitive experiences? What were you doing?
Why aren't you doing it now?
(Photo Credit, Christine C. Reed, Upper Lobby, Warner Theatre, Erie, PA, 2009)